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The Instructional Leader and the Brain

The Instructional Leader and the Brain
Using Neuroscience to Inform Practice

Foreword by Pat Wolfe

November 2012 | 208 pages | Corwin
This book will provide information and insight to educational leaders that will enhance their ability to lead, guide, and support the classroom teacher. These insights will be provided through an examination of five neuroscience principles. Readers will be given opportunities not only to find overt links to how these principles unfold in classrooms, staff rooms, and board rooms, but will also be encouraged to find connections to their own unique contexts (both professionally and personally) along the way. Each of the five principles presented will include information about the neuroscience behind the principle. Focus questions and real stories will be used to clarify the context of each principle. These anecdotes will include examples of how we see and experience these principles in action. Specific strategies of how the principle might be exemplified in a K-12 school setting will be included. At certain points throughout the book, content questions will be posed to assist the reader in their own processing and understanding of this complex material.
Foreword by Pat Wolfe
Preface - Brain Compatible Instructional Leadership
About the Author
Instructional Leaders

Knowledge and Skills

Why This Book? Why Now?

What Makes This Book Unique?

Organization of the Book

1. A Brain Primer – Major Structures and Their Functions
Brain Hemispheres

The Cortex

The Cerebellum


Lobes of the Brain

Frontal Lobes

Parietal Lobes

Motor Strip

Somatosensory Strip

Temporal Lobes

Occipital Lobes

Cellular Brain

Plasticity’s Role in Instructional Leadership

Mindsets and Instructional Leadership

How Might the Instructional Leader Support a Teacher Struggling with these Principles?

Celebrate What You Want to See More Of

Using The Survey

Survey for Brain-Compatible Instructional Leadership

2. Emotions
How Insults Affect Thinking

The Transformative Power of Positive Emotions

How Anxiety Can Curtail Clear Thinking

Neuroscience behind emotions

The Limbic Region – The Role of the Amygdala and Hippocampus

Fast v. Slow Pathway – (Fight or Flight v. Thoughtful Response)

Negative Emotions Impact in a School Setting

Positive Emotions in a School Setting

How to use this as an Instructional Leader

Positive Emotional Valance in a Classroom

Modeling of Healthy Emotional Responses

Language’s Link to Emotions

Emotions and Supervising Teachers

School-wide Structures that Promote Positive Emotional Valance

Professional Development on Emotions – Inform and Teach

Connecting Instructional Leader Knowledge and Skill Sets to Emotions Impact On Learning

Resource Provider

Instructional Resource

Good Communicator

Sample Observation of How a Teacher Embeds the Principle

What are Some of the Things the Teacher did that Exemplified an Understanding of How Emotions Impact Learning?

Ideas for Teachers to Increase EQ in their Classrooms

Class Meetings

Teaching Students About Their Brains

Sam’s Circles

Chapter Summary

Post-Assessment Chapter 2 – Emotions Impact on Learning

Questions for Study Group

3. Attention and Engagement
How does understanding how attention and engagement work help an instructional leader?

Inattention subterfuge


Attention v. Engagement

Attention and Engagement Similarities



ADD/ADHD and Attention

Qualities of Engaging Work

Personal Response

Personal response in the Classroom

Personal response in the Staffroom

Clear Models

Clear Models in the Classroom

Clear Models in the Staffroom

Emotional Safety

Emotional Safety in the Classroom

Emotional Safety in the Staffroom

Intellectual Safety

Intellectual Safety in the Classroom

Intellectual Safety in the Staffroom

Learning With Others

Learning with Others in the Classroom

Learning with Others in the Staffroom


Feedback in the Classroom

Feedback in the Staffroom

Sense of Audience

Sense of Audience in the Classroom

Sense of Audience in the Staffroom


Choice in the Classroom

Choice in the Staffroom


Variety in the Classroom

Variety in the Staffroom


Authenticity in the Classroom

Authenticity in the Staffroom


Rigor in the Classroom

Rigor in the Staffroom

Sense of Competence

Sense of Competence in the Classroom

Sense of Competence in the Staffroom

Meaning and Relevance

Meaning and Relevance in the Classroom

Meaning and Relevance in the Staffroom

Connecting Instructional Leader Knowledge and Skill Sets to Attention and Engagement

Resource Provider

Instructional Resource

Good Communicator

Professional Development for Attention and Engagement

What to Look For in a Lesson Plan?

Sample Observation of a Teacher who Understands the Principle

What are some of the Things the Teacher Did to Take Advantage of Attention and Engagement?

Chapter Summary

Post Assessment Chapter 3 – Attention and Engagement

Questions for Study Group

4. The Power Processing
The Effects of Sensory Overload on Processing

Things that Inhibit Processing

Processing that Seems Effortless

Two Filters to Consider – Relevance and Environment

The Neuroscience Behind Processing – An Analogy

Brain Structures, Functions and Processing

Planning for Processing

Results of Effective Processing

What to Look For in Classrooms: Student Processing

The Use of Multiple Modalities

The Use of Specific Structures that Enhance Processing

Thinking Maps

Classroom Structures that Aid Processing

Using Drawing for Processing

Kinesthetic Structures for Processing

Computer-Assisted Processing

Time for Processing

Proof of Processing

Promising Practices with Professional Development

What to Look for In a Lesson Plan

Lesson Plans, Unit Plans and Curriculum that Attends to Processing

Connecting Instructional Leader Knowledge and Skill Sets to Understanding Processing

Resource Provider

Instructional Resource

Good Communicator

Sample Observation of How a Teacher Embeds the Principle

What are some of the Things the Teacher did to Take Advantage of How We Process?

Chapter Summary

Post Assessment Chapter 4 – The Power of Processing

Questions for Study Group

5. Feedback
How Understanding Feedback Helps the Instructional Leader

Untimely Feedback

Feedback that Encourages and Motivates

What is Feedback?

What’s Going on in Our Brains During Feedback?

Tight and Loose Feedback

Correlation Between Amount of Feedback and Distance to Learning Goal

Different Kinds of Feedback

Written Feedback

Demonstration for Feedback

Elements of Effective Feedback

Emotional Valance of Feedback

Feedback in the Staffroom

Giving Feedback on Instruction

Feedback Regarding Professionalism

Methods of Feedback in Classrooms

Rubrics are Brain-Compatible

Models for Feedback

Using Rubrics for Feedback With Teachers

What to Look for in the Classroom

Student to Student Feedback

Learning Progressions

Feedback During Instruction

Individual White Boards and Feedback

Student Response Systems


Five-Finger Rubrics

The Magic of the Dot

Checklist Provide Feedback

Reflections for Feedback

Professional Development for Teaching About Feedback

What to Look for in a Lesson Plan

Connecting Instructional Leader Knowledge and Skill Sets to Understanding Feedback

Resource Provider

Instructional Resource

Good Communicator

Sample Observation of How a Teacher Embeds the Principle

What Are Some of the Things the Teacher Did to Take Advantage of Giving and Getting Feedback?

Chapter Summary

Post Assessment Chapter 5 – Feedback

Questions for Study Group

6. Memory
How Understanding How Memory Works Helps the Instructional Leader

Unconscious Memory

Remembering – Even When You Don’t Want To

Remembering After Decades

What is Memory?

Timing Issues

Amount of Information Issue – M-Space and Chunking

How Does Memory Work?

Different Memory Systems – Declarative and Non-Declarative

Declarative Memory

Declarative Memories’ Subgroups – Semantic and Episodic

Semantic Memory

Episodic Memories

Non-Declarative (procedural, emotional, automatic response)

Procedural Memories

Emotional Memories

Automatic Responses

Some Things that Help Us Remember

Why and How do We Forget? The Seven Sins of Memory

Sample Observation of How a Teacher Embeds the Principle

What are Some Things the Teacher Did to Take Advantage of Memory Systems in this Example?

Connecting Instructional Leader Knowledge and Skill Sets to Understanding How Memory Works

Resource Provider

Instructional Resource

Good Communicator

Chapter Summary

Post Assessment Chapter 6 – Memory

Questions for Study Group


"This book combines information about how the brain functions with brain-compatible strategies into one resource that educators can use to transform classrooms into brain-compatible learning places."

Leslie Standerfer, Principal
Estrella Foothills High School, Goodyear, AZ

"The book ties together strategies and best practices with the six guiding principles of brain function. Margaret Glick explains these complex concepts in language that is easy to understand. Educational leaders will find that Brain-Compatible Leadership validates what they are already doing right, and offers numerous new ideas to try with their students and staff."

Julie Prescott, Assessment Coordinator
Vallivue High School Caldwell, ID

"Glick offers a unique approach to educational leadership development, as she brings the study of neuroscience to the field of learning. Complex brain actions for learning are explained in concise terms and understandable images. Application of how the brains of adults and children learn is woven into the chapters with practical classroom and staff room designs."

Pamela Nevills, Author
Fallbrook, CA

"This book peels back the layers of the complex work of instructional leadership to the inner core of its five most important principles. Margaret Glick is adept at aligning each of these critical principles to strategies of effective practice as they would look in the classroom and the staff room."

Ellen Lugo, Director of Learning & Teaching
Ontario Montclair School District, CA

“In her book, Glick strikes a harmonious chord by blending research about the brain with actions adults should take when preparing children for a meaningful future. Her analysis and application of information in and around processing and feedback are simply outstanding.” 

George Zimmer, Superintendent and Lynette Zimmer, Superintendent
Richmond School District, Sussex, WI and Consolidated School District 46, Crystal Lake, IL

"Brain Compatible Instructional Leadership brings brain research into the staffroom of the American schoolhouse. Margaret Glick provides a concise and up-to-date look at the latest and best research about how the brain works in both children and adults. The author revisits the work of multiple experts and varied sources and synthesizes the work into a practical application for teachers, teacher leaders, and school administrators."

John Antonetti, Senior Consultant
Colleagues on Call, Phoenix, AZ

"This is a clear, concise book that provides brain research background knowledge along with classroom applications and leadership strategies to enhance and monitor classroom instruction. There are many strategies a leader can use in PLCs, individual teacher supervision, and school-wide processes. This book has a good mix of theory and practical applications."

William Sommers, Principal
Spring Lake Park, MN

Margaret C. Glick

Margaret Glick is an educational consultant specializing in neuroeducation. Her passion is promoting a working understanding between current neuroscience research and its implications to education. This passion stems from the belief in the capacity of educators to reach the highest level of learning and thinking in order to continuously reflect and improve their practice.Margaret’s experience as a teacher, instructional coach, presenter, principal, superintendent and instructor of a brain development and cognition courses at the university level combine to bring a wide range of skills and understanding to her work in education. Working... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412988223

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